Montessori-Style "Sandpaper Music Notes" and Fun Extensions!


And, having fun with learning music notation can certainly have a long-lasting and very positive effect on our little "Future Musicians"!  

It's just one of those important things in music education, so why not make its introduction playful and appropriate for the little children!

We Montessori teachers are forever looking for effective ways to present concepts to children that begin as a concrete experience, so that later moving into the more abstract understanding of that concept will come effortlessly to the child.

Okay, so playing simple pitched & unpitched rhythm instruments gives children a very sensorial and concrete experience: You shake the maraca and it makes a sound! Music!

However, music notation is a very abstract representation of making music, just like letters & words on a page are abstract representations of real things. 

The Montessori classroom is filled with concrete, real learning materials that children can touch, feel, hear, manipulate, see...and even smell & taste! One of the most famous of these are the "sand paper letters", invented by Dr. Montessori in the early 20th century. You can read more about sandpaper letters here: Wikisori Sandpaper Letters

 A few years ago, I made "sandpaper music notes" for the children in my Montessori Preschool classroom. These were a big hit with the children, since these little Montessorians knew just what to do with them!

Carolyn's quarter rest "sandpaper music note" with sand tray for tracing.

Here, you can see how the quarter rest is traced in the sand tray after the child has traced the quarter rest "sandpaper music note."

I made my "sandpaper music notes" from squares of smooth wood mounted with the music notes cut out of boat decking with a heavy adhesive backing. (materials from Home Depot)  So, they are not actually "sandpaper notes", but rather "textured notes"...however, the children still love using them!

"Quarter rest sandpaper music note" made from adhesive-backed boat decking.

"Textured Quarter Note" for children to trace with their writing fingers.

In this week's Preschool music classes, I introduced the "textured quarter note" and the "textured double eighth notes" because we have been counting out the rhythm "Ti-ti-ta" for months now! The children were delighted to see that "Ti-ti-ta" can be written in music note form and then read!

The Montessori method of introducing a concept with the 3-Period Lesson is an old stand-by for me, and so I presented these music notes that way. When I showed the quarter note, I gave them the name ("quarter note") and then I told the children that we call this note "Ta" in our rhythm echo games that we do at the beginning of each class. I did the same with the double eighth notes, telling them we call these "2 eighth notes" and in our rhythms we say: "Ti-ti". Click  this post link  for more on "ti-ti" and "ta": Freeze Dance with a "Ti-ti-ta" twist!

And, here's a link where you can read more about the Montessori 3-period lesson technique: Three period lesson from Montessori Services site

After the children passed around the "textured music notes" and each got to feel & trace the notes, we played this fun circle game: 
All the children closed their eyes, then I showed them the double eighth music notes and asked, "Is this "ta" or is this "ti-ti"? 
This game went on for a good while, as the children really love it! 

There is also a lovely extension for the "textured music notes" that I think your group will enjoy.


After the children have had lots of experience tracing the textured music notes, they enjoy making their own notes to take home! First, the child "writes" the music note using a glue stick on a square of colored paper. Then, the paper is placed  glue-side down into a tray of glitter. When the paper is lifted from the glitter tray, the glitter adheres to the glue "writing" and there is a beautiful music note!

Just plain fun! Hope you enjoyed this post and feel free to leave a comment or two below. I'd love to hear your ideas!

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